WACO (AP) – Baylor had only one committed recruit when Matt Rhule became head coach nearly two months ago. And the program is still dealing with the fallout from a sexual assault scandal that cost two-time Big 12 champion coach Art Briles his job last May. Just last week, a new lawsuit was filed alleging that there were a far greater number of attacks and more players involved than previously acknowledged by Baylor officials.
Even with that lingering cloud, the Bears signed 27 players on Wednesday, a balanced signing class that will rank in the upper half of the Big 12 Conference.
While there were no five-star recruits, or even any four-star guys, some tremendous strides were made in recruiting by Rhule in his short time in Waco with the Bears and their completely new coaching staff.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: None
Best in class: Xavier Newman, OL, DeSoto, Texas. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Under Armour All-American was a highly touted prospect as a center or guard, and had offers from more than a dozen Power Five schools. He originally committed to Colorado before visiting Baylor after Rhule got the job.
Best of the rest: Trestan Ebner, WR, Henderson, Texas. Had 57 catches for 1,074 yards and 16 TDs as a senior, when he also had five sacks as a defensive back.
Late addition: Justin Harris, DE, Gonzales, Louisiana. Originally committed to UCF last summer, the 6-5, 250-pounder had at least 10 other offers, including Texas A&M and Purdue, before an official visit to Baylor last weekend.
Ones that got away: Half of Baylor’s highly touted 22-player signing class last spring never went to Waco after Briles lost his job. The Bears also lost several early commits, including five-star linebacker Baron Browning, who verbally committed in the summer of 2015 before his junior season at Kennedale (Texas) High. Browning, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 11 overall recruit, is now an early enrollee at Ohio State.
How they’ll fit in: With the Bears down to about 70 scholarship players last season, including a dozen seniors, the new signees help build back up roster numbers. There are 14 defensive and 13 offensive players in this class, including 11 linemen (six on defense, five on offense. There are also three receivers, two running backs and a quarterback.
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